Three Romantic Days in the Napa Valley

“A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou” goes the most famously romantic line from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. It makes sense, then, that the Napa Valley wine country would be among the most romantic spots in the world – the perfect location for a marriage proposal, a special anniversary, or just a trés sexy getaway with the one you love. Here’s our proposal for three days of high romance among the vines.

Day 1

Let your love soar. It doesn’t get much hotter than this: Book a flight with Napa Valley Aloft and watch the sun rise over the vineyards from your private hot-air balloon, with a Champagne toast by your pilot as you soar over one of the most beautiful views on planet Earth. For a little extra, you can also enjoy a post-flight brunch with the pilot.

Breakfast. If you didn’t opt for the post-flight brunch, head over to Lucy Restaurant at Bardessono Hotel in Yountville, where you can order such fortifying fare as Duck Confit Hash or Croque Madame in its beautiful, minimalist courtyard with softly splashing fountains.

Instagram a photo opp. Yountville is a photo-friendly town, and there are plenty of selfie-duet opportunities. Try the colorful sculpture walk, browse the galleries and shops, or stroll over to the French Laundry kitchen gardens for some gorgeous backdrops. Just a few miles north on Highway 29 is the famed “Welcome to the Napa Valley” sign – a shot of which will broadcast to the world just where you’re canoodling.

Lunch. The Carneros region just southwest of Napa is sometimes overlooked but its rolling, vineyard-covered hills will put you in the mood for some relaxed us-time. Check out the Boonfly Café for locally sourced casual fare, where you can also try your hand on the nearby bocce court before or after your meal.

Take a virtual trip to France. Available by appointment only, the Sparkling Suite at Domaine Carneros (pictured above) offers an intimate, private tasting overlooking the vine-covered Carneros hills. You can make it even more over-the-top by booking the “Carneros Wishes and Caviar Dreams” experience – a private tasting of four Domaine Carneros wines (two sparkling, two Pinot Noir), one ounce of Tsar Nicolai caviar, a charcuterie plate, and one complimentary bottle for you to take home.

Dinner. After returning to your hotel to freshen up, drive up (or down, depending on where you’re staying) the Silverado Trail to the Relais & Chateaux resort, Auberge du Soleil. If it’s fancy you want, book a reservation in advance for the Michelin-starred restaurant. But the Auberge Bar & Bistro also has an excellent menu – including a raw bar with oysters and caviar – and its outdoor terrace offers one of the most beautiful views in the valley.

Day 2

Breakfast. If you’re staying near St. Helena, make your way to the Model Bakery on Main Street, where you can find all manner of sinful pastries and breakfast choices. Grab one of the café tables out front and watch the world pass by. (There’s also a Model Bakery at Oxbow Public Market in Napa if you’re staying down-valley.)

Go for a spin al fresco. For many couples, romance means being out in nature. With Napa Valley Bike Tours, you can book a tandem “bicycle-built-for-two” for some real togetherness, or a private, guided bike tour on a selected route.

Lunch. Stop by Dean & Deluca or V. Sattui (just across the street) for cheeses, breads, and, of course, that “jug of wine.” Then head for Lyman Park in St. Helena and spread a blanket in its quaint wooden gazebo for a good, old-fashioned picnic for two.

Pretend you’re in Italy. Should you be in the mood for a little more wine-tasting, book a private tour and tasting at Antica Napa Valley, a wine estate in the breathtaking eastern mountains of the Valley. The old-world ambience reflects the European heritage of the Antica name, which derives from the legendary Italian wine family Antinori.

Dinner. After resting up back at your hotel, check out Bar Terra, an elegant spot in an old stone building in St. Helena that features an exotic cocktail list and a gorgeous menu, from snacks to desserts.

Day 3

Breakfast. Napa has a lot of breakfast spots, and Grace’s Table is a local favorite. Try the Iron Skillet Corn Bread with Lavender Honey or the Chilaquiles with Tasso Ham Cheddar, Pico de Gallo and Lime Crème Frâiche.

Get pampered together – Built under nine acres of hillside vineyards and Napa’s Grape Crusher Statue, the Meritage Resort’s Spa Terra offers a variety of romantic treatments. With the customized Terra Massage, you can lie back and relax as your therapist selects the ideal combination of warm essential oils and massage techniques to ensure you get the most of this therapeutic body treatment.

Keep your relationship on track. One of the few active historic railroads in the U.S., the Napa Valley Wine Train offers couples the romantic setting of a vintage train surrounded by the valley’s legendary views of vineyards and rolling hills. From a gourmet lunch or dinner on board to a tour of a nearby winery, there are a variety experiences to choose from. Tickets generally include train fare, a three-course meal, and a wine tasting.

Lunch or dinner. Depending on if you took the wine train for lunch or dinner, you’ll probably want to keep it light for your remaining meal. Head over to Hog Island Oyster Bar at Oxbow Public Market for a plate of pearly bivalves, some crunchy bread, and a crisp glass of white wine. You can toast The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.

And here are some ideas for accommodations with special romantic features or packages.

Photo Credit: Bob McClenahan

Kirsten Mickelwait is a St. Helena-based writer who has lived and raised her family in the Napa Valley for nearly 20 years.

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